Category Archives: Statistics

Airing Tonight on CBC: Generation Jobless

In 2011, I appeared in the documentary Generation Boomerang about, well, the boomerang generation. Tonight, the makers of that film are premiering their new documentary — Generation Jobless — on CBC’s DocZone at 9 p.m. PT/ET. I know I’ll be watching, and if you’re in Canada, I’d suggest you watch, too, especially if your adult kids are struggling with unemployment or underemployment. Here’s some information about the new documentary from the filmmakers’ press release.

UPDATE: Generation Jobless is now viewable online within Canada at http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/ID/2330990900/

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Today, the unemployment rate for Canada’s twenty-somethings hovers just under 15%, which is nearly double the national average. Why are so many of today’s college and university graduates unable to forge their way into the job market? The new CBC documentary Generation Jobless takes a critical look at the growing problem and the serious ramifications it will have on the lives of every Canadian regardless of age, gender, education or income. Can we fix a broken system or are we destined to betray an entire generation?

Generation Jobless explores the harsh realities Canada’s twenty-somethings face when they try to gain a toehold in the workplace: unprecedented competition from their parents’ generation, and an economy that is being transformed by globalization and automation. Generation Jobless also looks to Switzerland for a solution, where youth unemployment is 2.8% — the lowest in the developed world. In this country, a strategic alliance between government, educators and employers ensures that almost all young people find their place in the job market. If Switzerland can achieve this, why can’t Canada?
Several experts weigh in on what many are calling the most important social issue of our time.
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You can watch the trailer for Generation Jobless below.

Disturbing facts about parents meddling in the job search

Recently, I’ve seen some disturbing survey findings about what adult children and their parents think is appropriate in terms of parental help in the job hunt.

From research done by Gary Insch, Joyce Heames and Nancy McIntyre at the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University:

  • Nearly 70% of students found it “somewhat” or “very appropriate” to receive help from their parents when writing a resume or a cover letter.
  • 20% thought it was fine to have their parents contact a prospective employer.

And according to a poll of employers by Michigan State University (this one is a bit dated, as it comes from 2007, but I suspect the trend is for parental involvement to be increasing rather than decreasing):

  • 40% of employers had dealt with parents contacting the company to obtain information
  • 31% had dealt with parents submitting resumes on behalf of their children
  • 15% had dealt with parents complaining if the company did not hire their child
  • 12% had dealt with parents trying to negotiate their children’s salary and benefits
  • 4% had seen parents attend their children’s job interviews!

As part of the survey, one employer even felt compelled to offer the following advice to parents: “Please tell your student that you have submitted a resume to a company. We have called a student from our resume pool only to find they did not know anything about our company and were not interested in a position with us.”

A note from the report to those parents who think they are helping by being directly involved in their adult children’s job search: “Many [employers] responded that they take parental presence in the job search as a negative and would like to see less parental ‘interference.’”

If you’re looking for legitimately helpful ways to assist your adult children in the job hunt, check out my tips in the article How to Help Adult Children Living at Home Find a Job.

 

The New Normal?

I do a lot of reading about adult children living at home. In the last little while, I’ve seen more and more journalists referring to the phenomenon of adult kids living at home in their twenties and even early thirties as the “new normal.” Is it the new normal? This doesn’t quite site right with me for a couple of reasons.

First, while the numbers of adult children living at home are increasing, for all age groups over 25, they are still in the minority. Adult children over age 25 are living at home in increasing numbers, but that number is firmly in the minority category. Even for the 18- to 24-year-old age group, the number just squeaks into majority territory (52.8% of 18 to 24-year-olds live with their parents according to researchers at Columbia University in New York based on data from the U.S. Current Population Survey). Fifty-two percent is not a large enough number to say “everybody’s doing it.” In fact, it’s only just over half. Is this the new normal?

Second, when things become “normal,” that generally means we know how to deal with them as a society. But the trend of young adults moving back in with their parents is not yet something we are equipped to deal with in North American society. The rules about financial support are especially unclear. In societies where it really is normal (and expected) for adult children to live at home, there is also an expectation of reciprocal support. Adult children live with their parents and may receive financial support, but they have defined roles within the household that may include looking after younger siblings or cousins, or contributing to the household work and cooking. When parents are elderly, their children are expected to return the favor through financial and emotional support. It’s a balanced system that is not currently in place in the broader North American society.

And third, calling adult kids living at home the new normal minimizes the emotional and financial impact it can have on parents, both of which are very real — and very challenging.

Adult children living at home may be a growing trend, but it is not (yet) the new normal. Both parents and adult kids living in this situation need to plan for the emotional and financial challenges and work hard to make the situation function well for both generations.

Infographics: Plummeting youth employment in Canada

These infographic from The Globe and Mail show two things. First the huge drop in employment for young people aged 15-24 over the last five years. And second, how the average cost of housing compares to the median household income. They are part of a very interesting story looking at the challenges young people in Canada are facing today. You can see the whole piece here.

Cities with the most adult children living at home

Business Insider has created a great post with a list of the 10 cities in the United States with the highest percentage of adult children aged 20 – 34 living at home. Their post provides great insight into what might be happening in each city, including the median income for young adults, youth employment rate, and percentage of this age group that remains unmarried. It’s definitely worth a read. Here’s their list of the top 10 cities. Is yours here?

1. Bridgeport, CT
2. Honolulu, HI
3. McAllen, TX
4. Miami, FL
5. New York, NY
6. Oxnard, CA
7. Los Angeles, CA
8. El Paso, TX
9. Scranton, PA
10. Riverside, CA

Do you give your adult kids an allowance?

New data from the Pew Research Center provides some interesting statistics about adult children living at home. I’ll provide a detailed post in the next couple of days — I want to take some time to analyze what this new information means for families.

For now, the Huffington Post has an interesting article on the topic that ends will a poll: Do your parents give you an allowance? As of this writing, 22.06% of respondents had voted yes. That’s about in line with the Pew Statistics that show 1 in 5 18- to 34-year-olds is receiving an allowance from mom and dad. I’ll keep you updated on the results of the poll!

40% of non-student adults 18-39 living (or recently lived) at home

Various agencies and surveys tend to present the numbers differently, but they all convey the same message: More and more adult children are living at home. This is one statistic I find especially significant: According to a poll for the National Endowment for Financial Education conducted by Harris Interactive, 40% of American adults aged 18 – 39 either live at home or have done so in the recent past. That’s a shocking figure, partly because it goes all the way up to age 39, and partly because it specifically excludes students.

The same survey finds that adult children are having a financial impact on their parents, which is no surprise. What’s scary is that 26% of the parents with adult children living at home have taken on debt to support their kids, and 7% have delayed retirement.

Adult children living at home after their parents are retired

A new report from TD Canada Trust shows that adult children living at home may be interfering with their parents’ retirement plans — because those adult children will still be living with Mom and Dad after the parents have retired.

The TD Canada Trust Boomer Buyers Report shows that 17% of baby boomers who plan to downsize are delaying selling the family home because they still have adult children living at home. Of those, 12% say they will likely still have adult children living with them after they have retired.

These numbers illustrate one of the important points I try to make when talking about why adult children should always make a financial contribution to the household, and why it’s important to create a family budget. While it may seem like it’s “free” for parents to let their children live at home, it simply is not. In this case, parents who would otherwise be lowering their living expenses and freeing up equity from the family home are delaying doing so in order to house their adult children. This is a real, and significant, cost.

This report also raises an important question: Does it make sense for boomers who have retired and are living on pensions or retirement savings to continue to support their adult children, who are in their prime earning years?

Boomerang generation = Entitlement generation?

Margaret Wente, a columnist for the Globe and Mail, a national newspaper in Canada, today published an opinion piece about the “entitlement generation,” and how their expectations for life are rather out of whack with the realities of today’s economy, and today’s world. Among her points? A recent survey showed that new university graduates expected an average starting salary of $53,000 per year. The realities of the job market, of course, will not bear these expectations out. The question is, will these young people accept jobs they think are below them, or hold out for a job they feel is worthy? And if they do accept what they feel to be sub-par jobs, will they approach them with the openness, willingness to learn, and positive attitude needed to advance in a company, and in a career?

With these questions having no obvious answer, it’s not surprising that so many young people are now living with — and financially relying upon — their parents. Wente argues parents are to blame for the lack of ambition and reality-consciousness of their children, having told them since birth that they were successful always, even when they weren’t. It may seem unfair to let reality in to the parent-child relationship at this stage, but it truly is better late than never. If boomerang kids feel entitled to live at home until the perfect, $50K+ job comes along, they will be at home for a very, very long time.

During my post-college stay with Mom and Dad, I worked for slightly more than minimum wage at a bookstore. It was a long way from the lofty career I’d pictured, but I was, after all, 21 years old with only retail and service job experience. The high-level career job offers were not pouring in. But, I did earn some money — enough to get out of the house after eight months — and I threw myself at every opportunity that little job offered. I started a community book club. I asked to become the liaison with community newspaper ad reps, then started writing some of the copy for newspaper ads. I launched a very basic store website. I never made more than $9 an hour, but I left that job with real, relevant experience to convert into a first “Real Job,” which turned into a career. That member of the “entitlement generation” living in your basement needs to take a similar approach. And, even if you’ve coddled them all along, it’s up to you to help them see that no dream job offer is coming. To make it on their own, they’ve got to make their own opportunities. It starts by looking for a job, even if it’s not a career.